So you want to enter a virtual landscape where you can play any and all games in a holodeck-like situation, but you want to bring your buddies, too? The next generation of virtual reality gaming has your back. As we experienced at GDC 2014 and as is being re-confirmed again this week, the next wave isn’t all going to be about you escaping from the rest of the world - you aren’t going in alone!
Earlier this month we had a look at the second developer kit delivered by Oculus VR, the aptly named Oculus Rift DK2. In one demonstration of the kit, we were treated to a game in which we weren’t alone - we were always joined by a second player existing in the same space as we were.
This game was called VR Knights, and it featured two avatars battling on a table sitting in front of two players. Both players were shown seated on couches - not unlike the reality of the situation outside of VR.
"These little knights run around a room - fully furnished - while you sit on a couch and control. Another player sits at another couch, controlling one of the knights while you control yours, fighting one another. You can see your (virtual) self and your friend’s (virtual) self while you control your player on a tabletop."
This particular example didn’t have each player able to touch one another directly, but did start us in on how it’ll feel to have another real-deal human being in the mix.
This week Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, spoke with Polygon about developer initiatives within Sony’s Project Morpheus. In this chat, Shuhei speaks briefly on how multiplayer games will work within Sony’s PlayStation 4 virtual reality landscape.
"So we are making it so game designers can design what Nintendo calls asymmetry game design. So that one person can be running away, and all the other people are chasing, or one person is running through a haunted house and the other people can place traps or ghosts or something like that.
So that makes it a social experience so there will be more people interest in trying this and it won't be as awkward for you to use it with other people around." - Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios
The first big whack gaming had at virtual reality was back in the 1990s, when it was an oddity you’d see at a state fair, working with a massive helmet connected to machines that were far too big to be a reality in the home. The Virtual Boy from Nintendo, too, made it seem like virtual reality gaming was going to be an interesting place to play - but either far off in the future or not at all.
Now we’re here. We’re so close to a real, functional environment in which we can escape into that even the biggest names in the industry are about to try their hand. And we won’t have to go it alone.